Schwartz: Redo Raiders stadium deal

Board overseeing proposed NFL stadium in Las Vegas to meet. (Drawing courtesy of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee)

At the site, it’s a beehive of activity, and all this work will, in two years, become a $1.8 billion home of the Las Vegas Raiders.

It’s paid for, in part by 750 million in public money, higher room taxes, and paid mostly by tourists.

But State Treasurer Dan Schwartz, a Republican candidate for Governor has a problem.

“We are absolutely dead last in this country in terms of education, so why are we spending $750 million to build a football stadium for a bunch of billionaires is beyond me,” he told me by phone from Carson City.

Schwartz says, if he's elected, he wants to renegotiate the deal: force the Raiders to build a cheaper stadium and take the 750 million and spend it on schools.

It may seem a little late to jump into a stadium debate while concrete is now being poured. After all, the deal has been signed, and last week Clark County sold the bonds, backed by higher room taxes, to pay for the public portion of the project.

RELATED | Hotel room tax income for stadium falls below projections for fourth month

Schwartz, however, is undeterred.

“I’m not going to touch the bonds, okay? The bonds are secured by the hotel tax revenue. What I’m going to do is touch how the proceeds are spent,” says Schwartz. That would be no small task since the legislation that raised the room tax and the legal documents offering the bonds specify the money will be used to build a stadium.

“I mean, if you want to disagree with the stadium, that ship has sailed,” says County Commissioner a Democratic candidate for Governor Steve Sisolak, who’s been a huge stadium supporter since its inception. Sisolak sat on the tourism committee that paved the way for the project.

He looks at the stadium and sees tax revenue generated by the estimated 47 events, including football, that it's expected to host each year.

“Over $14 million annually will subsidize, will go towards education, in addition to what we're spending now as a result of the stadium being built,” he tells me.

If he can't renegotiate, Schwartz says he'd divert funding for stadium roads and ramps, and send it to schools.

“What I'm hurting is Joe Schmoe who wants to go to the stadium, but I'm benefitting the 400,000 or 450,000 K-12 students in this state,” Schwartz says.

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